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Friday, April 29, 2011

Horse Opera: Another Wagner Accident at the Met

Ride My See-Saw: The Valkyries in Act III of Die Walküre at the Met. 
Eve Gigliotti (Siegrune) is all the way at the left. 
Photo by Ken Howard © 2011 The Metropolitan Opera.
Another onstage accident has been reported in connection with the Metropolitan Opera's new Ring Cycle: this time at Thursday night's performance of the Met's new production of Die Walküre.

In the third act, the famous Ride of the Valkyries features Brunnhilde's eight singing sisters mounting the planks of Robert Lepage's giant "machine" set, taking hold of "reins", and riding the see-sawing planks like bobbing horses' heads, across a digitally projected stormy sky. The singers let out their war cries in turn, as the computer-controlled planks move up and down. As the Valkyries arrive at the rock, the planks stop moving and the warrior maidens simply slide down the planks to the stage. It's simple and elegant, the best visual moment of this production.

According to several reports on Twitter, Eve Gigliotti, singing the role of Siegrune, fell off the machine, landing in the space between the stage apron underneath the still-moving planks. The audience gasped, and the scene continued with seven Valkyries until Ms. Gigliotti returned to the stage, to a wave of audience applause.

Ms. Gigliotti did not take her curtain call at the end of the opera. However, soprano Deborah Voigt, singing the role of Brunnhilde in the production, reported on her Twitter (@debvoigt) that the singer was OK. On her own Twitter account (@evegigliotti) Ms. Gigliotti said that she was "home and resting."

We here at the blog hope that Ms. Gigliotti was not seriously hurt, and that she stages a speedy recovery.

This is the second accident in this production involving the set. On opening night, Ms. Voigt was supposed to clamber up the set and hug her father, Wotan (Bryn Terfel) atop the contraption. But she slipped on the set before her opening "Hojotohos" and slid about two feet down to the apron. She picked herself up and sang an admirable set of battle-cries, continuing the performance without missing a beat.

In one of those weird operatic coincidences, this is also the second time that an accident has happened on April 28 during a performance of a Ring opera at the Met. The last such incident was in 1990, at a performance of Götterdämmerung, part of the Met's old Ring produced by the German team of Otto Schenk and Gunther Schneider-Siemssen.

The late, great Hildegard Behrens was singing Brünnhilde in the last scene of the opera, beneath a towering set depicting the Gibichung fortress on the banks of the Rhine River. She was supposed to sing her last notes and exit as the Hall collapsed onto the stage. Ms. Behrens was hit on the head by a piece of canvas-wrapped styrofoam scenery during the final conflagration. The singer recovered, but had back and shoulder injuries that may have affected her later career.

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